France throws open police, legal archives of World War II-era Vichy regime

France is opening police and legal archives from the collaborationist Vichy regime, allowing free access to previously classified documents from World War II.

The order, signed Dec. 24 and effective Monday, allows anyone access to the archives that, among other things, show the extra-legal prosecution of members of the French Resistance, as well as proceedings against French Jews. The order allows exceptions for any documents classified under national defense.

Many of the archives were already available to researchers. The new order allows anyone access and also includes investigative documents from the post-liberation government.

Gilles Morin, a French historian, told LCI television the archives will offer a window into the operation of the collaborationist regime led by Philippe Petain from 1940 to 1944.